Happily Even After
A TV Program Worth Watching
by Josh Noem
NBC’s Tuesday evening drama, Parenthood, is TV worth watching.
We don’t watch a lot of TV, but this is one of the few shows we’ll make a point of watching because it speaks truthfully to the experience of parenting.
The show follows the Braverman family: two aging grandparents, four siblings and their families. Two of the siblings are married, one couple has a child who is autistic and in the other couple it is the dad who stays home to raise the daughter while the mother works as a successful lawyer. The other two siblings have children, but are either separated or not yet married. Every situation in the show comes back to the theme of parenthood.
The show is well-written and the acting is more than believable, even from the children. We find it compelling because it addresses the balance we’re always trying to find in family life: How much do we give to our children, how much do we take for ourselves? When should we let them go and when should we hold them close? How do we share the work of parenting, and how can we share each other in the work?
Stacey and I are in a constant process of evaluation to determine if we are giving enough time to each other, to children, to ourselves and to friends and family. It is like trying to simultaneously fill four buckets with water from one hose. We’re always looking around to see if something is too full and if something is too low.
Being tied in that web of relationships can feel like we’re being pulled apart in four different directions, but when the core relationship between Stacey and me is solid, everything else falls into place. That core relationship can only stay solid if we are emptying ourselves for one another. Whenever I start turning in on myself—because of stress or disappointment or just egotism—our relationship starts to rot. Self-gift keeps us healthy.
This is a constant theme in the show—sacrifice. It seems that in every episode, someone makes a choice to give of themselves in a meaningful way, either to a spouse or child, even if it is in a small way. These acts of family heroism, small and large, are inspiring—seeing it done on TV makes it easier to recognize and seize opportunities to do the same.
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